Because it was the afean Diego Chargers, a team entering the game at 1-4 and with a -32 point differential in the fourth quarter, the Denver Broncos had a chance. With one final heave, however, Trevor Siemian couldn’t get the ball into the end zone for a touchdown that would have brought the Broncos to within at two-point conversion of making it an unlikely tie game. Siemian’s inability to heave a Hail Mary into the end zone from the 46-yard line was borderline unforgivable in NFL terms, but it certainly wasn’t the most egregious moment in a game filled with gaffes by the Denver Broncos.

In the first quarter and much of the first half, the Chargers dominated both sides of the ball, maintaining a 17:03 to 4:53 time of possession and 160 to 68 total yards advantage. Yet despite the lopsided numbers, the Broncos defense managed to buckle down and keep it a 10-3 game at halftime. The horror show would come in the second half and all on the part of the Denver offense.

It’s Not Sunshiney in San Diego

After a three-and-out that yielded -1 yards to open the second half, the Denver defense continued to bend and not break by surrendering only a field goal. Four plays later, however, the Chargers had the ball back in their hands at the Broncos’ 36 yard line thanks to a fumble by second-year wide receiver Jordan Taylor. Pat Forde, longtime columnist for Yahoo! Sports, called it one of the worst plays of the year.

The Chargers would stall out on the ensuing possession, earning just a field goal (again), but it was a costly turnover at a time when the Broncos offense badly needed to start moving the chains. Following the San Diego field goal, Denver trailed 16-3. Adding insult to injury on the play was a personal foul penalty by Donald Stephenson that gave the Chargers an additional 15 yards on the turnover.

Russell Okung Joins the Penalty Party

On a night in which the Broncos committed 13 penalties for 103 yards (11 of which came in the second half), there was a point at which every offensive lineman had been whistled for a penalty – every one except left tackle Russell Okung. The former Seahawk picked the absolute worst time to join the penalty party*.

Denver’s offense had finally found some rhythm in the fourth quarter, having scored a touchdown on their previous possession. Siemian had moved the offense from their own 37 to the Chargers 20 and a touchdown would bring the Broncos to within three points with roughly 4:00 on the clock and the defense fully (and finally) dialed in. Siemian found C.J. Anderson on a short pass across the middle and the running back bounced and bowled his way into the end zone for a touchdown. The play would not stand, however, as Okung was flagged for a late holding call.

Siemian was sacked on the very next play, leading to a second-and-30 that would set the stage for the final, game-sealing gaffe.

*Replay showed that Okung was likely the offender when Denver surrendered a safety by holding in the end zone, but the referees charged Max Garcia with the hold in real time.

DT Fumbles the Game Away

It’s hard to say that this was the biggest mistake of the game, as it came on the heels of Okung’s gut-wrenching penalty, but a fumble in San Diego territory inside of 4:00 minutes when trailing by 11 – especially one by a wide receiver as talented (and highly paid) as Demaryius Thomas – is simply unforgivable.

On second-and-30 following the sack of Siemian, the young QB found Denver’s longest-tenured player for a gain of 13 yards. Then, Jatavis Brown’s helmet found the ball. Brown was a one-man wrecking crew for the Chargers, racking up 14 tackles (13 solo) and a sack, but his forced fumble all but sealed Denver’s fate.

Yes, the Broncos would kick a field goal, miraculously recover the on-side kick and have a chance to tie the game in a perfect storm that seemed like it could only happen to the Chargers. But the fumble by DT, who had just five catches for 35 yards on 10 targets on the night, was the final nail in the coffin in a game most Broncos fans will want to see buried and gone for a long, long time.